JOSH McGuire could have been packing down for Samoa at the likes of St James’ Park, the Emirates Stadium and Old Trafford in recent weeks.
Instead, he was unpacking boxes in Stockton Heath and getting down to the graft of pre-season with his new Warrington Wolves teammates.
As he adjusts to life in England following his move to The Wire, the veteran forward revealed he turned down the chance to play for Matt Parish’s side at the Rugby League World Cup in favour of a full block of training with his new club.
Even having watched their incredible run to an eventual final defeat to Australia, whom he represented in the last World Cup, he has no regrets
“I was going to play the World Cup with Samoa,” he said as he addressed the media for the first time since his arrival.
“I talked with Powelly (head coach Daryl Powell) and Karl (Fitzpatrick, chief executive) about it, we discussed it and decided it was best for me to come straight over and hit the ground running in pre-season.
“If I did play in the World Cup, I wouldn’t have been here until January. I would have missed the chance to build these relationships with the boys.
“I took my kids to the final and I went in to see both camps ahead of the game as I played for Australia too.
“I’d tasted the experience with Australia in 2017 so at no point was I sitting back thinking I wish I’d have played. This move was too important to me.
“The relationships we’re building are going to be really important leading into the season and going through it.
“The only way you build them is out on the training pitch or on the wrestle mats.
“You build a trust and it’s important for those guys to trust me out on the field and for me to be able to trust them.
“It takes longer than three or four weeks to do that – if I’d have come in January, there wouldn’t have been much training before we’d be straight into the first game.
“This way, I get a solid couple of months and it’s crucial for me as a middle link player.
“The guys get to see me and how I like to play – I like to shoot from the hip, fly off the line and tackle people. There won’t be any secrets by the time we get to Round One.”
Having been present and correct when pre-season started on November 14, McGuire has now had a fortnight’s worth of time with the players he will get his first taste of Super League alongside.
With plenty of young players using the early stages of training to catch the eye, the 32-year-old likes what he sees.
“I’m super impressed with the work ethic,” he said.
“It’s quite refreshing that the kids here are so hungry to learn.
“Back in the NRL, the kids’ skill levels are through the roof but a lot of them have been told how good they are for their whole lives.
“They have that arrogance in a good way and their confidence is very high.
“Here, they’re grafters who are appreciative of what they have and are eager to learn – the skill levels haven’t had the opportunity to develop yet but their work ethic is so refreshing.
“You can work with that. You can learn skill but desire and appreciation are formed from a young age.
“The older boys – I’ve played against a few of them in international footy so there’s a bit of banter around.”
As well as training and settling into life in Warrington with wife Tanyssa and their three children, McGuire has also had an early opportunity to meet some of the club’s supporters.
He earned high praise for his contributions at a fans’ forum last week, but the former Queensland State of Origin enforcer knows where he will ultimately be judged.
“All that matters is what I do out there (on the pitch),” he said.
“I’ve been around a long time, I pride myself on my effort on the field.
“I’m not here to embarrass myself – I’m here to play some good football and to provide a service to this club and our fans.
“They’ve signed me to do a job and physically, I feel great. We’re all here to do a job and we need to get results.
“If you’re an Aussie coming over here especially when you’re in your thirties, there’s a stigma about whether or not you’re here for the right reasons.
“The only way you can change that is what you do on the field and in the standards you drive in training.
“I knew what I signed up for – I knew I wasn't coming here for beaches and nice weather. I’m here to play football and experience some history and culture.
“I think the most refreshing thing is how culturally diverse the place is – there’s probably buildings in Warrington that are older than Australia is!
“It’s nice showing my kids that and that’s a bonus of coming to play football in this part of the world.
“The people here have been fantastic so far and they’ve gone out of their way to help us.”